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Fall for the Arts

By Charles Spencer

Matt Boerum leading a class about sound effects in film.

Matt Boerum leading a class about sound effects in film.

If you’ve ever fantasized about conducting an orchestra or drawing a rapier on stage and shouting “En garde!”—or just becoming a kid again and using your imagination to create a collage—the College of Arts and Sciences’ Fall for the Arts 2012 fund raiser was the place for you.

Sessions and workshops were presented on acting, dance, music, and visual art, as well as a gallery tour. A cocktail reception following the classes was topped off by a live art auction featuring works by such artists as Robert Gates and Sam Gilliam.

"Fall for the Arts ended with a bang (of the gavel) as we auctioned off works of art by 15 artists important to the past and present of American University and the city of Washington,” said Jack Rasmussen, director and curator of the American University Museum. “I selected all the work because I wanted it for myself. All are great examples of amazing artists at the top of their game.”

All proceeds for the fund raiser went to sponsoring arts at AU.

“We offered a highly eclectic sample of mini-courses that showcased some of the themes pervading our arts classrooms, studios, and rehearsal spaces on any given week,” said Professor Fernando Benadon, chair of the College’s Department of Performing Arts.

Added College of Arts and Sciences dean Peter Starr, “Unlike similar fund-raising events, ours was casual, highly interactive, and fun—in a way that we feel celebrated what's truly distinctive about this great university.”

The day was jam-packed with arts activities.

Theatre professor Caleen Jennings conducted a quick course on Shakespearean acting, Professor Carl Menninger made attendees think twice about those quintessential lovers Romeo and Juliet, and Visiting Professor Robert Hunter Williams allowed them to experience the thrills of stage combat.

Dance program artist in residence Christopher K. Morgan took the mystery out of what’s happening at modern dance performances, while dance professor Melanie George guided her students through theatrical jazz dance by focusing on Jerome Robbins, Michael Bennett, Bob Fosse, and Michael Jackson.

Music professor Daniel Abraham helped fantasy conductors take up the baton and lead an orchestra, music professor Marc Medwin delved into the stylistic keys of Beethoven’s work, ethnomusicologist Shalini Ayyagari demonstrated North Indian classical musical traditions, audio technology faculty members Paul Oehlers and Matt Boerum showed how sounds are made for movies, and Professor William Brent explained how to use interactive synthesizers to make music.

In the visual arts, artist Sharon Wolpoff helped students make a collage, professor Don Kimes displayed his paintings and discussed how interruption can serve as a catalyst for the creative process, graphic design professor Chemi Montes discussed the influence of design, and AU artists Zoe Charlton and Tim Doud and art historians Helen Langa and Juliet Bellow led a discussion of portraying the self and the body.

Winding up the sessions, American University Museum director and curator Jack Rasmussen discussed the curatorial practice at the museum and provided an enlightening look at current exhibitions.

The art auction that concluded the day offered art works by Lisa Montag Brotman, Manon Cleary, Joan Danziger, Willem de Looper, Alan Feltus, Robert Gates (two works), Sam Gilliam, Carol Goldberg, Tom Green, Micheline Klagsbrun, Edith Kuhnle, Lou Stovall, Robin Rose, Ben L. Summerford, and Sharon Wolpoff.

You can check out the artwork that was up for bid click here.